ONE MAN’S OBESSION – THE STORY OF MARV THE IMPALER
“Embrace the madness or the madness will embrace you.”
- Corporal Giovannini, USMC
It all started with an idea.
In late August of 2005, a certain Mad Max fan and costume creator was recruiting total strangers to walk in a grand costume parade through downtown Atlanta. He didn’t know what the parade would be like, he didn’t know if he would have anyone to walk with, and he didn’t know if he would even be able to walk in the parade. But he had stubbornness, determination, and the grit to give this gambit a shot.
There were about a dozen people who were carefully selected and approached on Friday night. Five stated without a doubt that they loved the idea and would be at the man’s room early Saturday morning to pick out an outfit and walk in the parade.
Her name was Rebecca, with the alias of Mistress V. She was a tall, blonde, athletic girl with strong features and the right attitude. She wore her chosen outfit well and did it brutal justice. She didn’t just walk in the parade; she strut her way down the street, flanked by the man and his good friend, Road Kill.
Without registering with anyone, these original three simply showed up, picked out a spot, and joined the parade.
Mistress V, The Man, and Roadkill
Here is a (somewhat blurry) look at the parade in 2005. The Road Warriors are at 6:15.
The costumes were a hit and a good time was had by all. It could have ended there. But the man’s devious mind regurgitated an idea for next year.
Several costume groups had vehicles to go with their themes. Army guys with jeeps, Klingons on Harleys. So… if we’re going to have post-apocalyptic outfits; why not a post-apocalyptic vehicle…
And it came to pass; that The Idea was born into this world.
Find a cheep, beater car or truck, Mad Max it out, trailer it down to Atlanta, and cruise it down that exotic city’s streets.
Lots of work and effort right up front. A significant financial commitment too. Best not to count any chickens. Let’s break this down into stages, with each stage being attempted only upon the successful completion of the previous one. There were also relevant peripheral details; side quests if you will. Such as, where will we park the Beast once (if) we get it down there? (Parking downtown in a large city is never easy or cheap) But, one step at a time.
You might think that Stage One would be finding a vehicle to modify. Not true. What good would it be to have a vehicle without the means to get it down there; hence, Stage One. Simply driving it was out of the question. Early on, the budget for the vehicle was set at $300. Highly doubtful that a $300 dollar car will drive 700 miles straight without breaking down; a risk that was unacceptable. Also, insurance and even registration were expenses that the man chose to ignore. Hey, I told you it was on a budget. That could be the theme for this whole story. So how to transport the as-of-yet hypothetical Beast?
Rent a trailer of course. So around June (read as ‘crunch time’) a few calls were made. Bad news. The cost of renting a trailer was more than the allotted cost of the vehicle itself. Major problem. Another option was to borrow/rent a trailer from a friend. The man was short on friends with trailers, however.
Side note here. From September to June is nine months. So what was this mildly sociopathic man doing all that time? Why, getting parts together of course.
Whenever there was an opportunity to pick up the odd bit of steel or pipe, the man took it. This also included stopping on the highway to, er, ‘acquire’ street signs and the wondrously tough engineer stakes they are bolted to. A very tall, steel flagpole was taken down by a neighbor; it was made up of several heavy steel pipes. Perfect for the man’s designs. Yet the neighbor was just going to throw out all that beautiful steel. The man gathered it up. This was a constant, back-of-the-mind type of thing for the man. But it was also an effective way of gaining raw materials for any given metalworking project.
Also sought out were specific components for the desired vehicle. The first concept decided on was that some sort of swivel mounted weapon system would be mounted in the rear of the vehicle; be it in the bed of a truck or the trunk of a car (with the trunk lid removed, of course.) A swivel mount could be fabricated from nuts and bolts, but the man wanted something reliable. Something strong, and made from existing car parts. A U-joint assembly from a driveshaft would work nicely.
So one day at work the man found himself in a junkyard. There, his ever watchful eye spied upon an old, small, rusted U-joint and driveshaft. Once it was discreetly yet awkwardly hidden on his person it was smuggled out and to The Workshop (as his garage came to be known as.) The scavenger hunt continued.
But back to the trailer situation. As things were boiling down to a ‘go’ or ‘no-go’ situation, it was discovered that a family friend had a trailer that he used for this very purpose. Discreet inquiries were submitted, and sometime in June the use of the trailer on Labor Day weekend was granted.
Stage One: complete.
Finding the vehicle.
The man had decided on using a truck for this mad endeavor, mainly because his favorite vehicle from the Mad Max movies was a truck. Also, trucks are generally more durable and versatile than cars, and as such would make better war machines in a post-apocalyptic world. Another boon was the ‘target environment’ in which to locate the Beast. The search would take place in the farmlands north of his home. I’m sure most of you have seen a beat up old truck on some farmer’s lawn with a For Sale sign on it; not so much with cars. You see, no one would waste money advertising in magazines that they had an old truck to sell. Word of mouth wasn’t helpful either. Calls were made to local demolition derby tracks with no success. Even junkyards were visited, spawning what could have been the start of a few horror movies, but those are other stories (and they were no luck anyway.) Driving through farmland and looking around was the only real option. So the man took to driving in a grid pattern down country roads and amassing a list of potential candidates. There were depressingly few.
Most sellers wanted far too much for these junkers. The man’s mediocre bargaining skills fell far short of the task of bringing down the price. Most of the trucks looked at were either the wrong color (black, red, blue, and grey were all acceptable, in that order) or too new (The Mad Max movies were made in the early 80’s and the man wanted to stay authentic.) The man also wanted a vehicle with an automatic transmission, so there would be no risk that the driver (yet to be found) would have to be taught how to drive a stickshift. A prophetic concern.
Throughout June and July, the search continued.
Some information that the reader may or may not be curious about:
Why wouldn’t the man want to drive his own vehicle; his baby that surely he will make with his own blood, sweat, and tears?
The answer is ego and crowd appeal.
In The Road Warrior, the leader of the bad guys is The Lord Humungus; a heavily muscled monster of a man who wears little but a silver hockey goalie’s mask. From his war machine, this warrior of the wasteland commands his armada and taunts his enemies through a loudspeaker system mounted on his vehicle.
The man wanted to be Lord Humunugs; looking down upon the gathered masses from his powerful ride and belittling them for driving their four cylinder, foreign cars. This whole cockamamie project would be culminated with the man, standing tall in the back of the truck, hockey mask on, one arm raised in a fist, other arm holding a microphone to his mouth; warning the crown that they would know the vengeance of the Lord Humungus.
Back to the search.
With time running out, a compromise was made. A truck was found for $300. A black Ford; sounds good so far. But it was a stick shift, and a 1990 model; too new for the man’s liking. But the mission needed a vehicle, so a time was set to buy the truck and drive it away.
Now, if you are selling a vehicle of questionable reliability, one would think that the seller would have the vehicle started up and running far in advance of the potential buyer even showing up. As luck would have it for the man, this was not the case. The man showed up 15 minutes late to find the truck with it’s hood open and battery cables hooked up to it. Not a good sign.
Even with the battery cables, the truck wouldn’t start. This was good because the man now knew the truck was too unreliable for even his purposes. This was bad because the man was back to square one in his search. Very bad, actually, because the man had already covered almost all of the potential ground. With a deep sigh and a heavy heart, the search continued…
A side quest that was being pursued during this time was how to dispose of the beast after the parade. Towing it down to Georgia would be bad enough on fuel economy and travel time; the man had no desire to repeat that for the return trip. Also, he didn’t have anywhere to store the truck; and it wasn’t worth it – not for a vehicle he would only use once per year. The truck had to be left (one way or another) in Atlanta.
So with a Google search for junkyards around Atlanta, the man called one and inquired about dropping off “A truck that wasn’t road legal, but ran well”. The man hoped that the truck could be sold for parts, and so he could recoup some of the $$$ he would be putting into this. The junkyard would also have to be open Saturday morning on Labor Day weekend, as that is when the parade would be over. The junkyard owner told him that he certainly could drop the truck off there, and that they bought working vehicles. The matter was settled. Easy enough.
Another side quest was the parking of the beast in Atlanta. In previous conventions there, parade vehicles were parked outside the host hotel. Very good for photo ops, convenient for getting to the parade, and best of all, free. This (so far hypothetical war machine) would look so cool there, alongside the military vehicles and sci-fi cars. The man had been contacting the hotel via e-mail to set up a parking space for his vehicle. It seemed promising, as the lady he talked with stated that this wouldn’t be a problem, but she would like to see a picture of the vehicle first. Since there was no vehicle to take a picture of, the man sent her one of a similar truck from The Road Warrior. That is where the correspondence ended. The man just stopped receiving replies. The reason for this would become apparent once they got down there. Another concern was the parking of the man’s truck and the trailer behind it. The hotel he would be staying at didn’t have room for a truck and trailer, but the one next door did. The man called again to confirm that he could park his truck there (and get screwed by the cost of doing so). It was all set.
One last side quest was the making of invites to be handed out for the parade. Instead of just asking people to join the parade, the man got a good picture of the original three and photo shopped it to include a description of the parade group and info on when and where to meet up. About twenty were made up on quality paper; with the hope that one fourth of those invited would actually show.
Back to the search. While driving through a one stoplight town by the name of Memphis, the man spotted a grey Ford with a For Sale sign on it in the junkyard lot of the local mechanic’s garage.
The Grey Ford
The man instantly surmised the truck was an early 90’s model in good shape. In other words, not suitable for his designs. But time was running out. A decision had to be made. The man turned around and stopped to examine the truck.
The For Sale sign plaintively asked for $300. It didn’t seem right; this truck in fairly good shape going for $300. Something had to be wrong with it. And something was, just not what the man had thought.
The mechanic came out, and he seemed to be an honest guy. He started it for the man, and the old Ford fired up right away, which was a very good sign, as the mechanic had no reason to tinker with the truck beforehand to make sure it would run for his mark. The truck turned out (disappointingly) to be a manual transmission, and powered by a fuel injected 302 V8. Not as powerful as the man would have liked, but it would work. However, the reason for the truck’s low price became apparent. There was an exhaust leak from one cylinder. It made an odd whooshing sound, out of tune with the rest of the truck’s rumbling exhaust, but it didn’t disqualify the truck as a winner. With no other options, the man told the mechanic that if he could fix the exhaust leak, he would come back and buy the truck in a few days. The mechanic agreed, and the man was happy.
And so, a few days later, the man and a friend returned to Memphis to claim the prize. The plan (there’s always a plan, isn’t there?) was for the man to drive the truck home to the Workshop closely followed by the friend. It had to be that way as the truck had no registration or insurance. The truck’s illegitimacy had to be hidden from any policemen concerned with people ‘driving legally’ or some such nonsense. The man was driving a post-apocalyptic highway monster; he had no time for trivialities! But first, the exhaust situation…
The mechanic put the truck up on a hoist and started taking the exhaust apart and welding it back together. Soon the truck was back on Terra Firma, ready to be tested. A turn of the key, and… no change. It wasn’t fixed. The mechanic couldn’t find the source of the leak. Problem.
The clock was ticking. With a drop in price, the man decided to take the truck as is. With the plan in effect, the two-car convoy was on its way.
Throughout the trip, the truck handled well and ran without fault. That is, until a few miles from home the idle started to rise. And then soar. The man tried revving the engine and actually lifting the pedal up with his foot, but to no avail. What was wrong with this thing? If it was a carburetor, the man could fiddle and adjust it. But the man knew nothing of fuel injection. With a panic-ridden heart, the man limped the truck home.
Once safely backed into the dark, dank depths of The Workshop, the man popped the hood and tried to see if he could do anything. He certainly couldn’t have the vehicle in the parade with a wildly roaring idle. Was the plan over before it began?
The man put the shifter in Neutral and turned the key. …Nothing. Nothing happened. NOW WHAT?!?!
With full blown ass-pucker panic about to set in, the man stopped and thought about the situation. An obscure safety-bullshit modification to manual transmission vehicles came to mind. As a safety factor, late model stickshifts cannot be started without first putting the clutch in. The thought being that some idiot would try to start his car while it’s in gear and drive through the wall and kill someone.
The man put the clutch in and turned the key. The truck started. Crisis averted.
Then of course the engine idle started to skyrocket again. After carefully insuring the shifter was in Neutral, the man eased the clutch out and looked into the engine compartment. The whoosh and roar of the engine seemed to be taunting him. Looking at what he assumed was the fuel injector’s idle doohickey; the man spied a metal rod bent over it. Definitely not a stock component. The man cautiously bent the rod into a new shape… and the idle evened out. Problem solved.
Correction: one problem solved. The exhaust noise was infuriating. With a greasy trouble light the man crawled under the idling truck to get a closer look at the offending leak. From every angle possible the man searched for the leak, but he could not locate it. What to do?
Put it off and fix it later. Sometimes it helps to immerse oneself in one thing in order to find the path to another. But the truck had arrived, and the man was now committed to this course of action. Stage Two: complete.
Which brings us to Stage Three.
Building the Beast.
The man had a general idea of what he wanted his beast to be. First and foremost was the pintle mounted weapon in the bed. The man was undecided on what kind of weapon it was to be. It was narrowed down to either a giant flamethrower or a giant compressed air-powered speargun. These two options were the source of much consternation, and the topic bears its own paragraph.
Crowd appeal (once again) was a factor. But the two weapons were deemed to have equal crowd appealousness. For added realism, blueprints and images of actual flamethrowers and spearguns were found online and used as reference. (For an odd side topic, the man realized that working, functional versions of these weapons could be made fairly easily. But that is another story). The flamethrower could be easily made with a propane torch, various lengths of pipe, rubber tubing, and cans from different sized fire extinguishers (that appeared through osmosis in The Workshop). A large fuel tank (not on hand) would also be needed to complete the flamethrower. The speargun would be even easier to make, with the same lengths of pipe and fire extinguisher cans. The spear itself would look quite cool; strips of steel welded on a pipe and into a point. The mount for this weapon was a pipe with a flange welded to its base, and then bolted to the bed of the truck as a post. The weapon (whichever one it would eventually be) would be mounted on a smaller diameter pipe that would slide down onto the post, giving it horizontal traversing. This set-up would also allow easy mounting and dismounting of the weapon system. (Some thought was given to not driving across the country with a realistic looking giant spear/flame weapon so prominently displayed.) The initial post was the first modification to be made, simply drilling holes in the flange and matching holes in the truck bed. Large bolts and larger washers held it in place.
It was about this time that Road Kill (a structural engineer) offered up his professional opinion that the bolts and washers were woefully inadequate and the whole thing couldn’t take the stresses involved and it would fall apart in short order. The man thought it would work as is, but as he didn’t have any deep understanding of physics, he deferred to the engineer’s expertise. A very, very, wise choice; as would gradually become apparent.
So tension cables were installed at the four corners of the truck bed; anchoring the post from four points. Road Kill then pronounced the contraption sound.
But with crunch time still rapidly approaching, the final weapon design had to be decided upon. The flamethrower (if real) would require slightly more technical know-how; a precious and rare commodity in a post-apocalyptic world. A flamethrower is also inherently destructive, and after all, the point of attacking another vehicle was to stop it and steal its gasoline. Hard to do when it’s on fire. Lastly, a flamethrower uses gas as fuel, and the last thing a post-apocalyptic road warrior wants to do is waste gasoline.
A speargun, on the other hand, uses only compressed air. Its projectiles would disable a tire, an engine, or a driver without spilling or wasting any gas. The spears fired could also be reused.
A speargun it was.
A flat piece of steel was bent into the proper shape and welded to the U-joint assembly as a framework for the weapon. With liberal use of large radiator clamps, a large fire extinguisher can was mounted, then a pipe to the end of the can. A smaller pipe had to be pounded into the first one, with spear points welded to the end. On the other end, a 90 degree angle was bent into the steel, and dual aiming handles welded in place. Another, smaller fire extinguisher can was clamped to the vertical post, and rubber tubing connected the two cans. The speargun was complete.
There were a number of other modifications to be done. But the focal point, almost as important as the speargun, was to be the prisoner frames mounted to the front of the truck.
However, the man had come to the conclusion that he would have to take the truck to a shop to have the exhaust fixed; and shell out a few more bucks to get it done. He couldn’t drive it around with all manner of fearsome looking steel welded to it, so before any more construction could take place, the truck repairs would have to happen now. A story was easily fabricated about using the truck as a float for a high school parade, and stressing the fact that it was on a budget, the repairs could be cheap, and they would only have to last a mile or two.
The first place the man brought the truck to (chosen because it was only a block away from The Workshop) was run by a mechanic of Middle Eastern descent. The man dropped the truck off with his sympathetic story, offering to pay under the table, hoping the mechanic would be able to fix it cheaply. The man had certainly stressed that point enough.
Yet an hour or two later the man got a call back. The mechanic stated the truck needed an entirely new exhaust system, on BOTH sides, from front to back. For $180.00 dollars. Dumbfounded, the man reiterated his budgetary concerns, and also questioned why repairs were needed on both sides when the leak was obviously only on one side. He got a bullshit answer, then a reduced quote on the bill. What crap.
The man didn’t have anything against the Arabian mechanic, as one of the man’s principals is to trust someone until given reason not to. He had reason now. Maybe things were done differently in the mechanic’s culture, but it simply wasn’t working for the man. He angrily drove the truck away; sans overpriced, unnecessary repairs.
Another shop was found, with a mechanic who could read between the lines. With that understanding, the man left the truck there and headed back to The Workshop to get going on the prisoner frames.
The Lord Humungus drove a fast, powerful, six-wheeled war machine. On the front of said war machine were two twin frames that Humungie’s prisoners were bound to. What better way to emulate Lord Humungus than with one’s own prisoners?
These ‘prisoners’ (as with everything made by the stringent man) would have to be realistic. Scarecrow-type bodies stuffed with cloth or whatever simply wouldn’t do. Mannequins might work, but they were hard to come by and non-poseable. Fortunately, the man knew of very realistic bodies to be had, provided they could be properly borrowed.
Fire/Rescue dummies were a perfect option. They had realistic size, weight, and joint flexibility. The man happened to mention this plan to another friend who would also be going to Atlanta that year. The friend loved the idea, but he took it one step further. He volunteered to be tied to the prisoner frames. Imagine, a real live prisoner! So with one ‘prisoner’ taken care of, the man went into work early one morning and covertly loaded up a Fire/Rescue dummy. Later at a used sport equipment store the man bought some old hockey pads for the dummy. The man dressed it up in old clothing and gloves; covering the head with cloth also. The man drilled a hole in the dummy’s chest through the hockey pads and stuck an arrow in there. Some red paint was added on, and the dummy looked real and looked dead.
With his prisoners lined up, the man had to address another concern. The weight of the prisoners (live and inanimate) was a bitch. They each weighed about 200 pounds. Not that big of a deal, but when those 400 pounds were tied to the already heavy prisoner frames, there would be more than 500 pounds bolted to the front bumper of the truck. It was unknown if the bumper could hold that much weight, especially bouncing up and down on a trailer for 700 miles. This mad contraption could not be allowed to fall apart during the ride down to Atlanta, nor during the all-important parade. To slightly understate things, the man’s friend would get hurt if the frame fell off while he was tied to it. Not good. That was a risk that could not be accepted.
The logical answer would be to rest the heavy frames on the actual front frame of the truck, then bolt them in place. The grill and other body work would have to be removed, and some cuts would have to be made to the bumper; no big deal at all. Fabricating a stable way of connecting the frames on almost a 90 degree angle to the truck frame was another story. The solution came in the form of a piece of extremely heavy duty angle iron that may or may not have come from highway construction signs. This long piece of metal had a perfect 90 degree angle, but the prisoner frames had to lean forward quite a bit. A very earthy solution was applied here. About an hour was spent with a sledge hammer pounding the angle iron into the desired shape. The man’s aching back would remind him of that job for days to come.
The actual frames were to be made from the engineer stakes that highway signs are bolted to. They have kind of a ‘U’ shape to them, with holes down the center for bolts to pass through. Instead of an I-beam, call it a U-beam. These stakes are made of some kind of strange metal or alloy. Very, very tough stuff. The first stake selected to be cut and shaped seemed to laugh at the man’s sawz-all when he tried to cut it. The trusty sawz-all, which had made mincemeat of everything in its path up till now, could barely mark the stakes. The man stopped and wiped sweat from his brow, staring in amazement at the stubborn steel. What to do?
The answer (and last resort) was the man’s acetylene cutting torch. The man had four stakes that could be used, but one was so mangled from a car crash that it would have to be cut and joined with a straighter piece. Two stakes were to be used for each frame, bent and joined at the top. Relief cuts also had to be made in order to bend the stakes. With gloves and goggles on, the man got to work.
Cutting the stakes was slow going. The tough metal resisted the burning torch, but it gradually gave way. While cutting the last one, a white hot flake of metal was burnt off and it caught on a gust of air. It floated down… on to the man’s forearm. You see, in his haste the man stupidly neglected to wear any protective jacket while using the acetylene torch. The flake instantly blistered the man’s skin before he could brush it off. Ouch. Then when the man did brush it away, he accidentally popped the blister. Accepting the price he paid for rushing things, the man shook his head and kept cutting. With the four stakes finally at the correct length, they were bolted together with sturdy steel cross members. Some cheap paint was found, and the entire contraption was painted black.
The Prisoner Frames
It was about this time that the man got the call he was waiting for from the repair shop. Bad news. Even they couldn’t find the leak. But at least the man wasn’t charged anything. The truck would have to be driven as is.
Soon all of the various armor pieces were ready to be bolted to the truck. But this couldn’t be done yet, because the man would first have to drive the truck to a nearby park and teach a friend how to use the manual transmission.
The man considered himself up to the task. He had taught others this very thing many times. Besides, the truck would be driven at walking speed, which only entailed getting it moving forward, and then easing the clutch out every so often to keep the momentum going. Or so he thought.
So an afternoon was spent on Manual Transmissions 101. The driver seemed to be having an unusually rough time with it, but he gradually got better. Halfway through this, the truck stopped running. Just like that. What now?!?!
As it turned out the truck simply ran out of gas. (The fuel gauge didn’t work to warn anyone of this). With a stop back at The Workshop for more gas, the lesson continued. Soon the driver to be seemed to have things down pat, and the man got back to working on the truck.
Here is a list of the remaining modifications:
-Two heavy pipes were painted black and bolted lengthwise to the front bumper. Some heavy lengths of chain were also bolted there.
-Extra spears for the speargun (for reloading) were made and placed in the truck bed.
-An orange snow fence was acquired and cut into the shape of the windshield, to eventually replace it.
-A pipe that was curved in an arc had straight pipes welded to its ends and then clamped behind the cab; a makeshift rollbar.
-A large chrome exhaust pipe was ‘borrowed’ and clamped to the rollbar. Just for show, but it looked good.
-Two megaphones were purchased and mounted on the rollbar. They were the kind with plug-in microphones. A trip to Radio Shack was made for components to make both megaphones work with one microphone. Easy enough, and the end result was quite loud.
-Someone had thrown out an exercise machine. When taken apart, it provided some cool looking metal pieces that were bolted on the walls of the truck bed.
All of these extras were painted black. The grey truck with its black components looked very mean, especially with the orange snow fence highlighting things here and there. The truck’s wheels were also painted black for more meanness.
All of these modifications took place in the last two weeks before the deadline. When not at his real job, the man was out in The Workshop covered in sweat and grime; building his very own Frankenstein’s monster.
The windshield also had to be taken out. The Man's friend Valkyrie had wanted very badly to be able to smash the windshield, and the man put off doing it himself so she could have the fun. On the day before the trip to Atlanta, Roadkill and Valkyrie stopped by to help with the final modifications. The man handed his sledge hammer to Valkyrie and told her to give it a girl’s name. Valkyrie christened the sledge ‘Roxanne’.
Valkyrie with Roxanne
Then she got the ‘all-clear’ to swing away.
Valkyrie happily slammed Roxanne into the windshield over and over.
Valkyrie going to town...
She apparently could appreciate some mindless destruction; and really, can’t we all? Not surprisingly, the sledge cracked the windshield every which way, but couldn’t actually cave it in. The man drilled a hole in the windshield for the sawz-all and cut it out that way. While he was at it, the man used the sawz-all to remove one of the front quarter panels. Valkyrie was also allowed to smash up the truck’s sides as well. The truck certainly looked as if it had been through many road battles.
Next came the main reason Road Kill and Valkyrie made their visit. The prisoner frames were far too heavy for the man to hold and mount by himself. Road Kill helped the man set the frames in place, then Valkyrie held them there while they were bolted on tight. The man used very large nuts and bolts along with lock washers. It was a very sturdy set up. But Road Kill suggested more was needed, at least for the ‘live prisoner’s’ sake. Two chains were connected to the top of each frame, then they ran to the roof of the truck. Holes were drilled in the roof at the windshield posts, and the chains measured and bolted there. This kept the frames from leaning too far forward. When it was all said and done, the prisoner frames were very stable. In good spirits, the three took turns hanging from the front of the truck as mock prisoners. Oh, was this going to be fun…
Another reason Road Kill had come over was to paint some vehicle art on the sides of the truck. Many of the vehicles from The Road Warrior had artwork on the sides and hood, and this seemed like a good idea to copy. The man had some ideas of what he wanted, and Road Kill, (having some graphic design knowledge) put some sketches down. The man wanted some sort of flaming skull on the sides. While discussing this and a name for the truck, Valkyrie offered up her opinion. As the truck was rough, grey, and all beat up, Valkyrie suggested naming it after Marv, the tough, relentless character from the black and white movie Sin City. Combining that fitting name with the effect of the truck’s weapon (impaling) the three came up with Marv the Impaler; also a play on the words ‘Vlad the Impaler’. The name worked for everyone, and it became official. Marv the Impaler it was.
Road Kill sketched a design of a stylized spear with a skull impaled past the point. Written on top of the spear was ‘Marv’, and below the spear ‘the Impaler’. It was a very, very cool design, and Road Kill used a marker to outline the image on Marv’s sides. Then the three got to work painting it on. This final modification wasn’t finished up until about midnight. Talk about cutting things close.
Correction; there was one final modification. Valkyrie had wanted very badly to hear the satisfying crash and tinkle of breaking glass, which the windshield couldn’t provide. So the man pointed to one of the small triangular door windows. Valkyrie grabbed a hammer and smashed it good. There was a crash, and there was a tinkle, and there were Valkyrie’s laughs of delight at the sound. Seeing her so happy with the simple act of breaking glass made everyone smile.
Finally, the man slid the speargun onto its post, and Marv the Impaler was complete. Months of preparation and weeks of work paid off. Marv was one mean machine.
The trailer was hooked up to the man’s truck (a 2003 Ram, with the Hemi, of course) and the man drove Marv up onto the trailer, a narrow fit. Marv was then chained to the trailer at four points. The tubs containing the man’s costumes were also loaded, and he was ready to go.
It would be quite an adventure, driving some fourteen hours straight, over highways and through mountainous roads, up for hours on Mountain Dew and sugar. But endeavors like this and adventures like these make life worth living. That night the man went to bed very happy and content, anticipating the journey to start the next day, but also slightly sad that the work on Marv had ended. He would miss sweating over his machine.
The great journey was to start the next day at about 11pm. The man, Road Kill, and the driver (to be named Clutch) were to drive through the night and arrive at the hotel at about 2 pm the next day. The man’s Dodge Ram was equipped with the towing package so no problems were anticipated there. The day uneventfully slipped away to night, and the two driving companions arrived. With everyone’s costumes loaded up and plenty of road snacks, the three got underway.
Keep on truckin'
Marv on the trailer
Sort of. A stop was made at a gas station to put more gas in Marv and to make sure Marv’s tires had enough air. You see, Marv’s fuel tank leaked. A lot. So some extra gas cans were bought and filled, to be used just before the parade so as to be sure Marv wouldn’t run dry. Then they were off.
Not too much can be said about the ride down. The man’s Dodge towed Marv slowly but adequately, with the trip taking about 14 hours. The trailer’s brake lights had been checked when the man first borrowed it, but now they refused to work. They stopped alongside the highway about an hour into the trip, trying to get the lights to shine. No luck. Yet another problem to be dealt with; trying to avoid having a police car behind them. Driving with no brake lights probably would cost them a ticket, IF it was spotted. Some ‘evasive maneuvers’ had to be employed a couple of times in order to keep roaming patrol cars in front of them. The three took turns choosing a CD to listen to, and with every gas stop Road Kill and Clutch would swap places. At first they kept track of how many people on the road gave them strange looks because of the unusual cargo they were towing. The expression of one elderly lady was priceless. As the hours dragged on, his passengers fell asleep and the man was left with his thoughts. He would enjoy the memories he was about to make for the rest of his life. Or so he thought.
Early Thursday afternoon they arrived in Georgia and took exit 249B to downtown Atlanta and the hotel. The plan was to unload Marv outside the hotel and park him there, the man would check in while Road Kill and Clutch unloaded all of the costume luggage, then park the Dodge across the street in the other hotel while Road Kill and Clutch brought everything up to the room. It didn’t quite work out that way.
First of all there was no parking for parade vehicles outside the hotel. The hotel was under construction; its entrances were getting remodeled. There was nowhere to park Marv. The concierge suggested a parking lot a few blocks away. So the plan was modified; Marv was towed to the parking lot, unloaded, and left there. Then they drove back to the hotel, unloaded, and checked in. Then the man was to park his Dodge at the prearranged spot at the hotel next door and walk back to meet up with Road Kill and Clutch. As the man pulled into the underground garage of the target hotel (with dozens of other groups unloading and parking), doubt crept into his mind about his chances of getting a spot for the truck and trailer. He spoke with a valet, who didn’t think he could keep the truck there at all. The trailer was just too big. The man got a hold of the concierge of this hotel, explaining how he spoke on the phone with someone and was assured there would be a spot for his truck and trailer. Not so. There was nowhere to park here. Turning around with the trailer in the cramped underground garage was a true measure of the man’s driving skills. Around a pillar, almost scraping said pillar, several cars, and several more people, and the man was back on the street. He drove back to the parking lot where they left Marv and found a semi-legal spot for the truck and trailer at the end of a row of cars. All this time, Road Kill and Clutch were waiting on the man. To top things off, it began raining. Ready to get back to the hotel and dry off, not to mention get some rest, the man ran through puddles to the parking lot booth to pay for the stay. However, the man had accidentally left his cash and cell phone with Road Kill. There was a problem with the parking lot attendant’s ability to understand English and his IQ in general. The man tried to explain that he had to go meet his friends to get his money. He was told in half-assed, broken, heavily accented English that his vehicle needed a tag (that he still had to pay for) and if it didn’t get one right away it would be towed. Keep in mind it was raining all this time. Driving through the city streets and finding a spot for truck and trailer was hard enough. The man didn’t want to leave, drive two blocks away for his money, probably lose his spot, and then just come back to the same place. Fuck that. The moronic attendant just wouldn’t let him walk out either. Now cold, wet, tired, and pissed off, the man stalked back to the parking lot. Seeing no other option, he simply climbed the ten foot fence and jogged back to Road Kill.
The man got his money and gave Road Kill and Clutch a ‘don’t ask’ look. Then he walked back to the moronic parking lot attendant and paid for his stay. Finally, he returned to Road Kill and Clutch again, for the last time.
Inside the hotel, the check-in went smoothly and the three got to their room. Already, a few fellow DragonCon-ers were milling about. The anticipation of a years worth of preparation and waiting caught up with the man. He didn’t feel tired at all; he only wanted to get on with the fun. He decided to get into his Road Warrior leathers and head out.
Once in his chosen attire, the man (along with Road Kill and Clutch) went to the registration room. The line was very short, but then, it was only Thursday afternoon. By Friday afternoon, the line would literally be around the block. With one registration tag settled, the man went to the parade booth. He asked about the Mad Max group, and the friendly lady replied, ‘Oh, you must be the guy with the HUMVEE.’ Huh? Then the man realized where the confusion came from. His registration name was HUMVEE Driver. The man cleared up the mistake, and he was handed about twenty parade tags for all those who would be in his group. Which brings us to the recruiting stage.
The man knew there were slim chances of finding many people to walk in his group. Aside from getting up early to walk around in someone else’s ‘deal’, there was the whole ‘wearing someone else’s costume’ thing. Oh, and the general weirdness of the whole thing. A guy in black leathers asking you to come to his room one morning to get undressed and then dressed again in a strange outfit that you can only guess as to what it looks like. There were many more strange things going on at DragonCon, but this one could be seen as ‘creepy’. But still the attempt had to be made. And, it was interesting to see people’s reactions to the question.
So began the quest for volunteers. Two girls were soon called to confirm their pre-arranged desire to join the parade, and give them the man’s room number. Then the man began sorting out potential road warriors and inquiring if they wanted to join the parade. Most people seemed very interested and listened to the man’s spiel. Those who weren’t already in the parade or who didn’t outright say ‘no’ were given the invite with the parade picture and info on it. And so went the remainder of Thursday, and all of Friday.
Friday afternoon, while coming down an escalator, the man spotted a girl he knew would be walking with him, but he couldn’t say exactly how he knew. Maybe it was just her look, or her attire, or some deep primeval instinct he possessed. She smiled a predatory smile as the man approached. She wore a short blue wig, a black fishnet body suit, black top, black miniskirt, black boots. More; she wielded a riding crop. Perfect.
The man asked to take her picture. She said the price for doing so was a whack with the crop. The man, always game for anything fun, instantly agreed. So one picture and one whack later, the man was inviting her to walk in the parade. She gave the man the usual strange look as he explained about the parade, then agreed to it all. Then he expertly gave her a whack in return with her own crop. The man got her name (Blue Thrasher) and phone number and arraigned to meet her the next morning. The quest continued…
The man spotted Road Kill walking about, and Road Kill had some luck also. He had one, possibly two warriors showing up. Now with an acceptable number of recruits, the man toured the convention grounds; enjoying the calm before the storm.
Saturday morning, 7:00 am. The man woke up and roused Road Kill and Clutch. He got dressed and arraigned all of his costumes and weapons about the room for his warriors to choose from. At 7:30 the man knocked on Blue Thrasher’s door. Blue Thrasher had agreed to man the speargun, (she definitely had the right look for it) and she had asked for a wake up call. They went back to the man’s room to pick out an outfit for her. She decided on a metal cup bra with shoulder pads adorned with spikes, and a chain mail skirt.
Soon Mistress V, Spyder, and Red Viper, the other female warriors, arrived
and picked out costumes. All the women involved wore sexy hooker boots.
Mistress V had her own beautiful black leather under bust corset, black leather tiara, and a spiky gauntlet for her right arm. She chose a silver hubcap bra and a chrome air filter cover shield. She also carried a silver flail with three spiked balls on chains.
Mistress V, with MFP Officer in the background!
Spyder wore a black and white corset, and she picked out some silver diamond plate shoulder armor. She wore a
wrist crossbow and carried a chrome sawed-off shotgun.
Red Viper chose football shoulder pads adorned with various red and orange vehicle lights. She also picked out
spiked red shin guards worn with garter belts. She carried a makeshift spiked ball and chain along with a stop sign
Red Viper, Spyder, and Mistress V
Clutch wore a catcher’s mask and a leather jacket with assorted sports pads.
Road Kill dressed as he did the first year; in tire tread shoulder pads and carrying a baseball bat with barbed
wire wrapped around the end. He also carried a crowd-pleasing shield; a ‘WATCH FOR PEDESTRIANS” road sign.
Bones, another friend, unexpectedly showed. He picked out some half football shoulder pad/ half tire tread armor. He carried a sword homemade by the man, a flat piece of steel cut and sharpened, welded to a short piece of pipe, and with a trailer hitch ball welded on for a pommel.
Then there was the victim, Flynn. As he was a prisoner, he wore no armor and carried no weapons. All he got was simple clothing smeared with fake blood.
The line-up: Red Viper, Roadkill, Spyder, and Bones; with Flynn and Blue Thrasher on Marv
Finally, the man himself. He would be wearing a cloak make from a black leather trench coat and animal furs. A wide belt circled his waist, and spiked shin guards for his legs. He would also be wearing his silver Cooper hockey goalie mask, just like Lord Humungus.
At 8:00, with everyone basically dressed, the man had to leave to get Marv to the starting ground. The others knew where to go, so the man headed out, with Blue Thrasher for company. What a sight they made together walking through the hotel and down the streets together, the envy of every guy and quite a few girls as well.
Marv started up faithfully, and off they went through downtown Atlanta. The man determined that not wearing the hockey mask while driving was a good idea. Soon they were at the parade grounds and directed to the Mad Max assembly area, near a group of very friendly World War II costumers. The man parked Marv and used the spare gas cans to fuel him up; just to be sure Marv didn’t run dry. The megaphones were tested, and with help, the man tied the rescue dummy to the prisoner frame. Flynn also was tied up, and Blue Thrasher held the speargun menacingly. The warriors posed for pictures in front of Marv. Clutch sat inside, working the gears and practicing the clutch. The man stood behind the cab with the microphone, surveying his minions. Marv finally, gloriously, was complete.
Now, I would ask you to remember them like this. Everyone in their place, ready to go, all smiles and attitude. Picture them as they are here, for it is all about to fall.
The man was coaching Clutch and advised him to start up Marv for some last minute practice. He put in the clutch and as Marv was on a slight incline, he started to slowly roll downhill. Very slowly, nothing at all to worry about…
Not so to Clutch. He must have panicked, and so earned his namesake. Clutch slammed on the brakes.
The man fell forward, hitting the rear window and shouting at Clutch. After Marv came to a wrenching stop, the man stood and checked on Blue Thrasher.
Blue Thrasher… she had fallen. Hard. She was sitting painfully in Marv’s bed, holding her ankle. The man helped her sit comfortably, and carefully removed her boot to examine her ankle. It was not good.
Blue Thrasher’s ankle had been twisted badly, sprained at least, and possibly broken. It was black and blue already. The man cursed silently, this woman’s pain that was basically his fault. She was hurt like this at his request, taking part in his goofy gambit. Then, Blue Thrasher surprised him.
She stood, hobbling into place. She told the man she wouldn’t let this stop her, even if her ankle was in fact broken. She was here because she wanted to, and she would have fun come hell or high water. She would go on with no problem, and no drama. She determinedly put her boot back on. The man looked at her in disbelieving admiration. What an incredible woman! What a fucking trooper!
The man wedged a pole into place for her to lean on; the least he could do for her at this point. The parade was starting; all those walking before them were starting to head out. The man’s Mad Max group began walking as well, and Clutch eased of the brake and gravity slowly rolled Marv down.
Now, the worst of it. A year’s worth of ideas, planning, hard work, searching, had come to this, and the man had made an almost fatal mistake. He should have known better to put a rookie driver behind the wheel for something like this. He should have known. The mistake was his and his alone.
They made a turn, and Clutch stalled Marv out.
The parade personnel flipped. One guy went ballistic, yelling at Clutch to get moving, they had to get the hell out of the way, etc. You can’t blame him; they had a schedule to keep after all.
The man soberly, grimly, knew what he had to do.
He jumped down and opened the door, telling Clutch to jump in the back.
The man got in and drove Marv himself.
There the problems ended. The man maneuvered Marv with no problems, and he shouted at Clutch to hand him the microphone. At least he would be able to do his speech from the driver’s seat. The crowd cheered, the warriors strutted, the cameras flashed, the megaphones boomed, and the man revved Marv’s engine to emphasize the high points of his spiel. Marv’s exhaust leak didn’t seem so bad now. This hulking machine and terror of the highway was finally gracing downtown Atlanta with its presence. The man happily soaked in the cheers from the crowd and the smiles from his warriors. More than one fan called out, “Yay, Humungus!”
Marv in all his glory
Here is a youtube video of Marv and company in the parade, at 3:05
Aside from the obvious dark spot, it was a very good time. Towards the end of the route, the parade went up a rather steep road. As it was slow going, even stop and go at times, this was a real challenge for a manual transmission. Even a veteran driver (as the man was) would have a hard time here. If Clutch had somehow made it this far, he would never have brought Marv up this hill. But the hill was surmounted and the parade continued.
Yet it ended so soon. Before he knew it, the man found himself parked outside the hotel were the parade ended. The troops went inside, and the man had to drive Marv back to the parking lot. There was no time to untie Flynn. The man shouted to Flynn that he had to go, and Flynn waved him forward. Now, a truly odd sight; Marv driving through city streets with one dead body and one live one bound to the front. Oh, the looks they got…
Soon enough, the man, Flynn, and Marv were back in the parking lots. Flynn helped the man take down the body and load Marv back onto the trailer. They walked back together, the man savoring the memories already. After returning to his hotel room and giving heartfelt thanks to everyone involved, the man collected up his outfits until the next year. Then he changed into ‘normal’ clothes. There was one more phase of this mission to complete…
Now he had to get rid of the beast. The man called the junkyard guy to confirm his ‘appointment’ and the address, then he headed back to the parking lot.
The parking lot was packed to the gills. The man knew he would lose his space(s) if he just left, along with not getting any refund for his parking fees. Improvising yet again, the man casually picked up an orange plastic ‘no parking’ post as he walked to the lot. He had an idea.
His ever-seeking eye had noted before, off in the bushes of the parking lot were a few tall parking cones and yellow rope tying them together. After taking a look around for anyone watching him, the man got them in position, then drove his truck out of the spot. He roped off his parking spot, hoping his simple plan would work. Simple plans are often the best ones.
So the man trailered Marv to meet the junkyard guy. After waiting in a parking lot for a bit, the junkyard owner showed up, dressed like some sort of pimp. Definitely not how the man pictured a scrap dealer. The JYP (Junk Yard Pimp) suspiciously looked Marv over. JYP explained that he thought he would be buying a truck to pick up garbage in. The man was puzzled by this, as he had stated Marv’s condition more than once over the phone. But, apparently JYP was still interested, and they got down to talking prices.
Now, the man had made up his mind the he would be getting rid of Marv, one way or another. Since Marv had no registration or anything, the man even considered just leaving him somewhere if a junkyard could not be found. Luckily, this wasn’t the case.
The man answered honestly what he paid for Marv. After giving Marv a thorough look-over, JYP offered the man $200 for Marv. Almost what he had paid in the first place. Wisely suppressing his elation, the man accepted. He drove Marv off the trailer and packed up all the tie down chains. Waving goodbye (before JYP could change his mind) the man got the hell out of there.
Now to see if his parking lot gambit would work. He had no idea where to go if his spot was taken. Sure enough, as he pulled back into the parking lot, his spot was just as he left it. And with that, the mission was accomplished.
The man enjoyed the rest of the comparatively uneventful convention, smiling to himself at what he had done. Through all the searching, work, crap, and problems, the man had succeeded in making his Idea a reality. Few would know (and even fewer would care) about what he had wrought that day. But the man knew, and the man cared.
That was enough for him.
Sometime later, the man bemoaned his choice of drivers to Valkyrie. She consoled him with a piece of wisdom so profound he would have never thought of it on his own. She realized, that in the end, the man mirrored Max himself. Max went through all the pain and trouble of driving a tanker trailer in an almost suicidal run for freedom through many marauding enemies, only to learn in the end that the tanker was filled with sand, and it was all pointless anyway. This revelation stopped the man’s thoughts cold. She was right. And it was enough.
It was enough.